Psalm 97

IMG_4046The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.  A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory  Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods. Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O Lord. For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods. Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (KJV)

As I researched the phase “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” this morning I realized that righteousness and justice have very different meanings to a wide vary of people.  The more I researched the more complicated the definitions of righteousness and justice became.  Righteousness is simply defined as an attribute that implies one’s actions are justified.   It is a term in theology that is used to describe a person who is in a right relationship with God.  Justice is simply defined as the concept of moral rightness.   However, in my research I quickly came to the realization that the definition of moral rightness is really based upon the person’s view in which you are having a conversation with at the time.  Of course the definition of moral righteousness would change with every conversation.  However, the book of the Psalms makes it clear who defines righteousness and that is the LORD.

As we go about the process of living in this world we seem to have a misunderstanding of the order in which we place your priorities.   It is His righteousness that should be the main priority that we seek and not our daily needs.  In Matthew 6:33 the Lord states “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you”.  As we consider our daily conversations with friends and family the topic of the problems in the daily events in our live usually rise to the surface and can become the major part of the conversation.    Yet we must realize that this topic should not really be a concern for the believer.  If we seek God’s righteous and justice then all the things we need will be provided to us.  Therefore our priority in life should be living a blameless life seeking the kingdom of God, and not worrying about tomorrow.

As I look at the opening statement of this psalm it reads “The Lord reigns” I am reminded of the song I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day and recall some of the words of this song that Henry Longfellow wrote during the time of the Civil War:

And in despair I bowed my head “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.”

As I look around me with all the wars and evils in this world today I can see why people can ask “with so much evil how could God be in control?”  Yet one hundred and forty-five years ago Henry Longfellow had the answer.  His answer “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail”.  The foundation of God’s throne is righteousness and justice.  Paul declares this righteousness of God as a righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  We need never to forget this important fact of God’s righteousness.  He did not just forgive our sins because he felt sorry for us; our sins were forgive because they were atoned by the cross.  Oswald Chambers writes about this forgiveness of God in his November 20 devotional:

“Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. The cost to God was the Cross of Christ. To forgive sin, while remaining a holy God, this price had to be paid. Never accept a view of the fatherhood of God if it blots out the atonement. The revealed truth of God is that without the atonement He cannot forgive— He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God through the atonement of the Cross. God’s forgiveness is possible only in the supernatural realm.”

We must not forget that even though the foundation of God’s throne is righteousness that justice had to be satisfied.  It took the cross to make our unrighteousness right before God.  This cost of this price to God can never be fully understood by us, but we can delight in it and I believe that this delight brings pleasure to God.